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How Often Should You Bathe a Ridgeback? Bathing FAQs

Knowing how often you should bathe your Rhodesian ridgeback, isn’t so obvious. Yet it’s very important. Bathing too little, or too much could cause bad odor, or much worse, dry skin. This article covers everything you need to know on bathing your ridgeback.

Rhodesian ridgebacks are very clean dogs and require minimal bathing. One bath every two to three months is sufficient for most ridgebacks. Bathing them more frequently than this could lead to dry skin or a bad-smelling coat.


How Often Should You Bathe Your Ridgeback?

Although it may seem like the more baths the better, it doesn’t actually work like that!

In fact, ridgebacks are better off with only one bath every two to three months. This is the ideal frequency to bathe them.

Some owners even choose to bathe their ridgeback as little as once every four to six months. And that’s still okay!

What About Ridgeback Puppies?

When it comes to ridgeback puppies, first of all they shouldn’t be getting wet at all until at least a couple of weeks after their final vaccination.

After this, a puppy ridgeback should only be bathed once every two to three months just as adult should.

It’s very important to ONLY use a natural and mild shampoo suitable for puppies. To be safe, you can always use baby shampoo on puppies until you switch over when they are an adult.

Why Overbathing Should Be Avoided

I don’t want to sound dramatic, but overbathing should be avoided at all costs!

The main issue with overbathing is that too much shampoo eventually strips the skin and coat of their natural oils. And it’s the natural oils that keep the skin and coat strong, clean, moisturized, and healthy.

A common result of overbathing is dry skin which is a catalyst for many subsequent health issues.

In fact, dry skin is one of the most common reasons why dogs visit veterinarians today. And you guessed it, one of the top causes of dry skin is overbathing.

Not only this, but the lack of oils usually triggers the body to overcompensate in producing more oils in an emergency response to having no oils… Unfortunately, too much of a good thing is often a bad thing, leading to a smelly, greasy coat that you think needs bathing again… And the cycle repeats.

Ridgebacks Are Naturally Hygienic

Rhodesian ridgebacks are a naturally hygienic breed, and infrequent bathing doesn’t mean for a second they will end up dirty or smelly.

In addition to this, ridgebacks partake in a lot of self-cleaning activities including licking and sniffing through their coat. Much like how cats groom themselves, a ridgeback does this in a similar way. And with their short and sleek coat, dirt doesn’t have much to cling to.

This, along with a bi-weekly brushing routine and the occasional wipe down with a baby wipe, your ridgeback will remain genuinely clean and odor-free for many months.

What’s The Best Shampoo For a Ridgeback?

A crucial part of keeping your ridgeback’s skin and coat in good condition is using the correct shampoo.

A natural ingredient shampoo that does not contain harsh chemicals, parabens, alcohols, sulfates, and detergents is by far the best shampoo for your Rhodesian ridgeback.

Natural ingredient shampoos that include either Aloe Vera, Coconut, or Colloidal Oatmeal are particularly excellent due to their soothing and healing properties.

Two of my favorite shampoos for ridgebacks:

This means that even regular pet shampoo should be avoided. Unfortunately, most of the heavily-promoted pet shampoos often contain harsh chemicals and detergents for the purpose of “cleaning”, when in actual fact, all they do is strip those essential natural oils out from the coat.

8 Helpful Bathing Tips

Let’s run through some helpful bathing tips to make shower time simple, stress-free and even enjoyable for your ridgeback and yourself.

1. Use plenty of high-value treats

Nothing works better than building positive associations than high-value treats. By offering your ridgeback a few tasty biscuits or a plate smeared with dog-friendly peanut butter he’ll quickly learn to love bath time. And nothing is better than bathing a dog who just stands there and moves as you need them to when bathing.

2. Bathe after exercise, not before

Bathing your ridgeback when he’s expended most of his energy is a much better game plan than trying to bathe him when all he wants to do is play and run around. Try bathing your Rhody after you’ve taken him for a long run or walk. You might just find it goes a lot smoother.

3. Only use lukewarm water

The last thing we want to do when bathing our dogs is shock them. And this can be done if the water temperature is too cold or too hot. Only use lukewarm water. This will be more comfortable for your ridgeback and will all go towards building a positive association with bath time.

4. Work up a thick lather

When you’ve got the shampoo on your ridgeback, be sure to work up a thick lather and massage the shampoo sufficiently throughout his coat and onto his skin. Don’t be afraid to keep the shampoo on for a good five minutes while you massage everywhere.

5. Rinse him thoroughly, then rinse again!

Many owners get tempted to rush the rinsing phase as the finish line is dangling just in front of them! But that’s a big mistake. Once you have finished rinsing your ridgeback, rinse him two times over! This is because leaving any traces of shampoo in his coat will end up irritating his skin significantly. Rinsing is crucial.

6. Speak to him throughout

If your ridgeback isn’t already fond of bathing, be sure to keep speaking to him throughout. This will help to calm his nerves and reassure him that he’s being a good boy and everything is alright! This could again help him to overcome any fears of bathing in the future.

7. Don’t let him air dry

You might be tempted to just let your Rhody run free after bathing, but that’s not advised. It’s important to dry him as best you can using a clean dry towel, then keep him inside for a while before letting him in the yard. This will allow him to calm down before going bonkers in the yard, and it will also prevent him from catching a chill from any wind or breeze that might be present.

8. Use baby wipes to keep him cleaner for longer

As bathing should only take place once every two to three months, in the meantime, you can give your ridgeback a wipe down with a baby wipe, or dog-grooming wipe. This will help prolong his cleanliness and eliminate any odors before they happen.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s run through some of the FAQs I receive on ridgeback bathing.

Can I bathe my ridgeback in winter?

It’s fine to bathe your ridgeback in winter as long as you use lukewarm water, dry him sufficiently, and keep him inside after his bath. It’s important to keep him inside as he will not be able to maintain his body temperature while he’s wet.

Can I use human shampoo on my ridgeback?

You cannot use human shampoo to bathe your ridgeback. Human shampoo is too acidic and can ruin the acid mantle of your dog’s skin. The best shampoo for your ridgeback is an all-natural ingredient dog shampoo.

Do I need to use a conditioner on my ridgeback?

It’s recommended to use a conditioner as well as a shampoo when bathing your ridgeback. Most quality shampoos will contain conditioner in them. Again, it’s important to only use a natural ingredient shampoo & conditioner.

Can I bathe my ridgeback every month?

Some ridgebacks are just fine with monthly bathing, but for the majority, this will end up being too much, and you’ll run the risk of drying out his coat. Stick to bathing your ridgeback once every two to three months.

Will my ridgeback smell if I don’t bathe him?

Ridgebacks are a naturally hygienic breed and very rarely smell even with infrequent bathing. To help keep your ridgeback clean and odor-free, be sure to brush him every week and occasionally use a baby wipe to clean his coat.

Why doesn’t my ridgeback like bathing?

If you have a ridgeback that doesn’t like being bathed, it’s likely due to a fear of water. This can happen if he has had a bad past experience with water OR is yet to establish a positive association with water. Either way, with plenty of treats, time, reassurance, and patience, he’ll eventually learn to like water and bathing.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.